P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota Golden Gophers tenure has been a largely successful one. Entering his seventh season as the head coach of the Golden Gophers, Fleck has led the team to back-to-back 9-4 finishes. Since Fleck took over in 2017, the team has finished with losing records just twice (2017 and 2020).
After an offseason where Minnesota added four new coaches to their coaching staff, what does the Minnesota Golden Gophers coaching staff look like?
Minnesota Golden Gophers Coaching Staff
Head Coach: P.J. Fleck
Fleck was introduced as Minnesota’s 30th head coach in program history in 2017. 2023 will be his seventh year as head coach at Minnesota. Fleck is already fifth in program history in overall wins and sixth in Big Ten wins and third in program history in winning percentage.
Fleck has guided Minnesota to three seasons with nine or more wins, becoming just the second head coach in Minnesota history to do so. Fleck has coached five All-Americans and won Big 10 Coach of the Year in 2019. He has also had 12 players selected in the NFL Draft while at Minnesota.
Before taking the Minnesota job, Fleck was the head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos. At Western Michigan, Fleck turned around a 1-11 team into a 12-0 regular season and Cotton Bowl berth. Seven of his Western Michigan players were taken in NFL Drafts, including wide receiver Corey Davis and tackle Taylor Moton.
Before the Western Michigan job, Fleck coached wide receivers under Greg Schiano at Rutgers from 2010-11 and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. Fleck coached wide receivers at Northern Illinois from 2007-09 after serving as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2006 under Jim Tressel, helping Ohio State make it to the national championship game that year.
Fleck enters 2023 with a 44-27 record at Minnesota and a 74-49 record overall.
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers: Joe Rossi
Rossi joined Minnesota’s coaching staff in 2017 as a quality control coach but is now entering his fourth season as defensive coordinator.
After a playing career that saw him earn all-conference honors at Allegheny, Rossi started coaching at the Division III level at Thiel College. Rossi coached the defensive line at Thiel from 2001 and 2002 before becoming their defensive coordinator/linebackers coach in 2003. After helping Thiel’s defense finish among the best in D3 in 2006, Rossi took a job at Maine coaching special teams and defensive backs.
Rossi spent two seasons in that role at Maine before also becoming their defensive coordinator. After two seasons guiding their defense, Rossi was hired by Rutgers to be their special teams coordinator in 2012. Rossi coached two excellent special teams units in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Rutgers was first in the nation with eight blocked kicks and scored five special teams touchdowns in 2013.
Rossi was promoted to defensive coordinator at Rutgers in 2014. Rossi spent two years there before joining Fleck’s initial staff at Minnesota as a quality control coach in 2017. Rossi was promoted to defensive line coach in 2018 before being named interim defensive coordinator that same year when Fleck fired Robb Smith. Rossi earned the full-time coordinator spot in 2018.
Rossi was nominated for the Broyles Award for best assistant coach in college football in 2021. The Gophers ranked third in the nation in total defense and finished top ten in rushing and scoring defense.
Rossi’s full coaching resume can be found here:
- Thiel College (Defensive Line, 2001-02; Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2003-06)
- Maine (Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Backs, 2007-08; Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2009-11)
- Rutgers (Special Teams Coordinator, 2012-13; Defensive Coordinator/Safeties, 2014-16)
- Minnesota (Quality Control, 2017; Defensive Line, 2018; Defensive Coordinator, November 2018-Present)
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks: Nick Monroe
Monroe is in his first season at Minnesota. Monroe spent the previous seven years at Syracuse coaching defensive backs and returns to his home state of Minnesota this season.
Monroe played cornerback for St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He transitioned into coaching afterward, coaching the secondary at Allegheny College in 2002 and 2003. Monroe helped Allegheny earn a berth in the Division III playoffs in 2003. Monroe was hired to join Colgate’s staff quickly after.
From 2004-09, Monroe coached a variety of roles at Colgate. He spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons coaching outside linebackers before taking over the secondary in 2006. In 2009, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator.
Monroe was hired by Bowling Green in 2010 to take over their secondary under head coach Dave Clawson and defensive coordinator Mike Elko. Monroe helped turn the Falcons’ defense around into one of the best in the country in passing defense, highlighted by a sixth-place finish in passing defense in 2013. Monroe stayed after Clawson left after the 2013 season and was retained by Dino Babers.
Monroe followed Babers to Syracuse, coaching the secondary before becoming solely safeties coach in 2018 and added defensive passing game coordinator duties in 2022. Monroe has coached a handful of NFL defensive backs such as Ifeatu Melifonwu, Trill Williams, Garrett Williams, and Andre Cisco.
Monroe’s full coaching resume can be found here:
- Allegheny College (Secondary, 2002-03)
- Colgate (Outside Linebackers, 2004-05; Secondary, 2006-08; Co-Defensive Coordinator, 2009)
- Bowling Green (Secondary, 2010-15)
- Syracuse (Secondary, 2016-17; Safeties/Nickelbacks/Rovers, 2018-21; Safeties/ Defensive Passing Game Coordinator, 2022)
- Minnesota (Co-Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks, 2023-Present)
Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Greg Harbaugh Jr.
Harbaugh has been in and out of P.J. Fleck’s staff at Minnesota and is in his third tenure under Fleck. Harbaugh began his coaching career at North Carolina Wesleyan College in 2009-10, coaching receivers and running backs. He also spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons as an assistant coach at Methodist University.
For the 2013 and 2014 seasons, he was the recruiting coordinator, academic coordinator, video coordinator, and passing game coordinator for Marietta College. Harbaugh served as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan in 2015 and 2016 under Fleck. Harbaugh followed Fleck to Minnesota as a quality control coach in 2017.
Harbaugh spent 2018 coaching wide receivers at Chattanooga before returning to Minnesota in 2019 as a quality control coach. Harbaugh returned to Western Michigan to coach wide receivers for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, where he coached receivers D’Wayne Eskridge, Skyy Moore, Corey Crooms, and Jaylen Hall.
Harbaugh returned to Minnesota again in 2022 to coach the Gophers’ tight ends. he coached Brevyn Spann-Ford in 2022 to an honorable mention All-American spot. Harbaugh was promoted to co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2023.
Harbaugh’s full coaching resume can be found here:
- North Carolina Wesleyan College (Wide Receivers/Running Backs, 2009-10)
- Methodist University (Assistant coach, 2011-12)
- Marietta College (Recruiting Coordinator/Academic Coordinator/Video Coordinator/Passing Game Coordinator, 2013-14)
- Western Michigan (Graduate Assistant, 2015-16)
- Minnesota (Quality Control, 2017)
- Chattanooga (Wide Receivers, 2018)
- Minnesota (Quality Control, 2019)
- Western Michigan (Wide Receivers, 2020-21)
- Minnesota (Tight Ends, 2022; Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2023-Present)
Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers: Matt Simon
A former Northern Illinois alum much like Fleck, Simon played for Northern Illinois from 2004-08. Fleck coached Simon at Northern Illinois from 2007 to 2008. Simon first started coaching at Northern Illinois, serving as an offensive quality control coach there for the 2010 season.
Simon spent 2011 coaching tight ends at St. Thomas in Minnesota before joining the Rutgers coaching staff in 2012 as a player development coach. Simon became the wide receivers coach in 2013 at Rutgers.
Simon reunited with Fleck in 2014 at Western Michigan to serve as the Broncos’ wide receivers coach. Simon immediately had results there, coaching Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman into one of the best duos in college football. The duo of Daniel Braverman and Davis were the first receiving duo since 2002 to catch more than 1,400 and 1,300 yards in the same year
Simon followed Fleck to Minnesota in the same role. At Minnesota, Simon has coached another first-round pick in Rashod Bateman and other talented receivers like Tyler Johnson and Chris Autman-Bell. Bateman became Minnesota’s first first-round pick since 2006 and Tyler Johnson left Minnesota as Minnesota’s all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdowns.
Simon’s full coaching resume can be found below:
- Northern Illinois (Offensive Quality Control, 2010)
- St. Thomas (Tight Ends, 2011)
- Rutgers (Player Development, 2012; Wide Receivers, 2013)
- Western Michigan (Wide Receivers, 2014-16)
- Minnesota (Wide Receivers, 2017-18; Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers, 2019; Co-Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers, 2020-Present)
Special Teams Coordinator/Rush Ends: Rob Wenger
Wenger played at Colgate under Minnesota’s co-DC Nick Monroe. He graduated from Colgate in 2008 and then spent two seasons at Rutgers. He was an operations assistant in 2008 and worked in player development during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
From 2010-12, Wenger coached at his high school alma mater St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida. After two seasons as the defensive coordinator at St. Thomas Aquinas, Wenger served as defensive coordinator at Allegheny College in 2012. Wenger joined Fleck’s staff at Western Michigan as a graduate assistant in 2013.
Wenger took over the special teams coordinator job in 2014 at Western Michigan. In 2016, he coached Darius Phillips who was named MAC Special Teams Player of the Year. Wenger followed Fleck to Minnesota in the same role. Kicker Emmit Carpenter played under Wenger for two seasons and left Minnesota as the most accurate kicker in school history and is the school’s second all-time leading scorer.
Running Backs coach: Nic McKissic-Luke
After a much-accomplished career as a running back at Alabama A&M where he left second in school history in career rushing yards, McKissic-Luke began coaching at Benedict College, spending five years coaching running backs and slot receivers from 2005-10.
McKissic-Luke then took over at South Dakota State from 2011-14, coaching running backs. During his first two campaigns, he worked with consensus All-American Zach Zenner, who finished his career third in FCS history with 6,548 rushing yards and 8,211 all-purpose yards.
McKissic-Luke then took the same job at Youngstown State in 2016. YSU backs Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb earned All-MVFC conference honors and played a key role in Youngstown State’s run to the National Championship Game. Running back Tevin McMaster earned first-team All-MVFC honors in 2017 and 2018.
McKissic-Luke then took over as running backs coach at Northern Illinois in 2020, where he coached MAC Freshman of the Year Jay Ducker in his first season. McKissic-Luke joined the Minnesota coaching staff in 2023.
Tight Ends coach: Andrew Sowder
A Baylor alum, Sowder is in his first season on the Minnesota coaching staff after spending the previous five seasons as the offensive coordinator at Kent State. Sowder served as a student assistant at Baylor in 2009 and 2010 before coaching running backs at West Texas A&M in 2011.
Sowder was hired as wide receivers coach for Eastern Illinois in 2012, helping Eastern Illinois win back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championships. Afterward, he was hired to coach wide receivers under Dino Babers at Bowling Green in 2014, coaching All-American wide receiver Roger Lewis.
Sowder spent a year at Texas as a quality control coach under Charlie Strong before becoming San Jose State’s offensive coordinator in 2017. In 2018, he joined Sean Lewis at Kent State as his offensive coordinator. Together, they created one of the best offenses in college football and produced several all-conference players.
Offensive Line coach: Brian Callahan
Callahan has been coaching offensive lines since 1992, making him the most experienced coach on the Minnesota coaching staff. Callahan coached the offensive line at Gordon Tech High School in 1992. He became a graduate assistant at Louisville in 1994, at Oklahoma in 1995, and at Pitt in 1996 and 1997.
He became a full-time college offensive line coach in 1998 at Northern Michigan. Within a year, Callahan was promoted to offensive coordinator there. Callahan was hired to coach tight ends at UTEP in 2000 and became their offensive line coach in 2001. He served there until being hired at Akron in 2004.
Callahan served as offensive line coach/run game coordinator for the Zips until 2009. He joined the Eastern Illinois coaching staff in 2010, overlapping with the aforementioned Andrew Sowder, and coached the offensive line there until 2012. Callahan joined Fleck’s staff at Western Michigan in 2013 and has coached offensive line for him at both Western Michigan and Minnesota ever since.
Callahan has coached two NFL Draft picks at Minnesota in John Michael Schmitz and Daniel Faalele and he has coached 19 All-Big Ten honorees, including two First-Teamers.
Defensive Line coach: Winston DeLattibourdere III
A Minnesota alum, Delattibourdere is in his first year on the Minnesota coaching staff. DeLattibourdere played under Fleck at Minnesota, starting 36 games. DeLattibourdere joined the coaching ranks in 2020 as a graduate assistant at Charlotte, working with their defensive line.
In his lone season at Charlotte, DeLattiboudere worked with three defensive linemen who earned Conference USA all-league recognition. DeLattiboudere spent 2021 as a graduate assistant at Oregon working with their defensive line as well. Three players earned All-Pac 12 honors, including first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux.
DeLattibourdere spent 2022 coaching the defensive line at Akron before joining Fleck’s staff in 2023.
Safeties/Pass Game Coordinator: Danny Collins
Collins was named safeties coach at Minnesota in 2022. A defensive graduate assistant under Fleck at Western Michigan, Collins has worked under Fleck his whole coaching career. Collins spent the 2017 season as a quality control coach, 2018 as a graduate assistant, and returned to being a quality control coach in 2019 at Minnesota.
Collins spent 2020 and 2021 as a senior defensive analyst for the Golden Gophers before being promoted to safeties coach. He has served in an interim role twice for the Gophers in bowl games.